The 3 Biggest Mistakes Students Make with First Aid for Step 1
We all know a review book is a must for the USMLE. Our review book of choice here at Med School Tutors is First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, commonly referred to as “First Aid.” This is no surprise, as it is the most commonly used review book for the USMLE—not just nationally but worldwide. In fact, almost every single student taking USMLE Step 1 uses this book to prepare. But if EVERYONE is using this book, why are the results among students so varied? Here we’ve identified the 3 biggest mistakes med students make with First Aid, because the question isn’t whether to use First Aid (which everyone does), but how to use First Aid correctly.
1. Not Starting First Aid Early Enough
Some students come to us saying they are “saving” First Aid for their dedicated study time a few weeks before the exam. Although First Aid is a high-yield review book, the 2014 edition has 583 pages of material! No one can completely learn First Aid in a few weeks (despite what fellow classmates might say), so it’s best to start early. Studying First Aid alongside your classes during your pre-clinical years is the best bet, and reviewing First Aid even after these classes end will help translate what you learned in each class to long-term memory for Step 1.
2. Filling in First Aid with Class Notes
Now that you are using First Aid during your pre-clinical years, you may think to fill up the book with notes from class. However, this is something you should avoid! The reason we all buy this book is because the authors put in the time to filter down the massive amount of medical information into a more manageable amount that is actually tested. Unfortunately, much of what you learn in class—while important in general—is not on Step 1. While adding in mnemonics and explanations are useful, resist the urge to write down everything you hear in class; there are already more than 500 pages to review!